So It’s Been A Year

How many times have I thought “wow significant things have happened, maybe I’ll blog about it.”


Then refreshed that thought with a swift “ah, who cares anyways.”


Big important things happened to me and I didn’t know how to talk about any of them.  I don’t want to make a big sentimental post, or get emotional about it.  A year ago I lost my mother.  Maybe I’m still processing that.  In my typical, dysfunctional way of dealing with Big Emotions, I took the route of “distraction.”  Taking on a big project or new thing or literally anything else other than acknowledging the elephant in the room.

But I did acknowledge the elephant in the room, myself.  So, in February, I got weight loss surgery.  That’s been my big project: myself.  It’s been a long year, and I’m down 90 lbs.  I’ve found strength in places I didn’t think I had.  I pushed myself harder than I thought was possible. It’s taken me to a point where I have processed some grief along the way.  And realized, for the second time in your life, that this isn’t something you just get over.  The grief gets woven into the quilt of your life, and it’s apart of you in different ways.  I’ve been able to think more about myself, and wonder if I’m just a selfish person.  That my reaction to losing a parent is to go all “new me” about it.  That wasn’t it, necessarily.  But the catalyst of life being short and that I should hurry up and do something to take care of myself now before it is too late was definitely the initial urgent motivator.


There’s so many layers and nuances to embrace of myself, my mind and my body and I’m feeling more and more like a whole person with the more weight I lose.  Not because my weight equates my worth, but I am putting work into myself, and making myself feel like a significant priority.

Stocking Stuffers (for the ladies)

Hey there men, how’s it going? It’s holiday time, and though you might have really thought you aced it buy buying a gift ahead of time for your significant lady, did you know that if you live together, you should be stuffing her stocking?  Not a euphemism for givin’ her the ol’ candy cane or a hunk of that yule log, but I’m being very literal in the sense that you should be purchasing small gifts to put in a stocking that she hangs up.  It’s the last minute, so behold, here is a handy list that you can go to non-mall stores that are likely right in your own neighborhood and purchase, like Five Below and Walgreens.  I could have said any drugstore, but Walgreens is 105% my favorite.  It’s up there with Target.  I just love it there, it’s local to my home and work, the employees are nice and I don’t wait on line FOR A FRIGGIN HOUR like I would if I’d gone to CVS.  Or if you’re even more pressed for time and effort, the Amazon prime alternatives.


No one knows your partner better than you do, so think about what she likes, or if all else fails see if she has an amazon wish list.  I’ve put together a wishlist of Amazon Prime Stocking Stuffers that you can take a look at as well.



Get some seasonal fun candies and get some things you know your partner enjoys.  You know your lady likes gummies?  Can’t go wrong with anything  from Trolli or Haribo.

Where to get:



Face Masks

Sheet masks, clay masks and even peel-off masks are available and always appreciated.  Mint Julep face mask has been popular for decades as a stand-by, but more and more types of clay and sheet masks are available at your local store, so see what selection they have to offer!

Where to get:



Five Below

Lip Balm

Eos lip balms are great because they are the only thing shaped like that in your purse, so when you’re just blindly shoving a hand in a purse or diaper bag looking for something, you know you’ve found it.  Check out special edition ones like Disney and holiday sets!

Where to get:



Five Below


Nail Polish

Local stores will have a lot of colors to choose from.  Sparkly, pastels, shiny.  You cannot go wrong, just pick something.

Where to get:



Five Below


Bath Bombs

You might not know what a bath bomb is, but they are like compacted spheres of bath salts that you throw in a bath tub, watch fizz around and then relax in while you have one of those cool face masks on.  The best kind come from Lush, hands down, but if you are avoiding the mall, you can get some at other stores as well.

Where to get:



Five Below




Most people lose these a lot.  Grab a pair from any store.  They don’t need to be Beats by Dre to be a good gift.

Where to get:



Five Below


Phone Cases

Where to get:



Five Below


Other Phone Accessories

Chargers, battery packs, screen protectors – Five Below is THE spot for all of these, for all different phone types.


An Ornament

Star Wars: The Last Jedi™ Rey™ Ornament

Pick out an ornament that pertains to your loved one’s interests.  The Hallmark store has some good ones from Star Wars.  Try to make it something sentimental that you put more thought into.


A Hot Beverage Mix

Image result for godiva hot chocolate


Coffee beans, tea bags, hot cocoa mix – maybe even a cookie or Stroopwafel to go with it!


Gift Cards

Image result for starbucks gift card

At Walgreens, there is a whole kiosk of gift cards from different retailers and restaurants.  Grab one for Starbucks and put it in a cute coffee mug!



Wake Me Up When September Ends


There’s always this strange feeling for me that comes with the beginning of September.  It’s bittersweet, it’s sad, it’s something that gives me this empty anxiety feeling.  In a way that people get Seasonal Affective Disorder, I just chalked it up to being that – my mind not jiving well with diminished daylight and the existential knowledge that time is running out.

I tried to think about it more though, why does this affect me so deeply and personally?  Why do I have that sad ache when the calendar changes and I get that first cool breath of wind on my skin as it’s still being warmed by a bright sun?  It’s a muscle memory thing, it’s the way you’re reminded by a scent of someone long gone.  The aching for a simpler time when I put on my crisp new clothes for the first day back at school.  I was the kid that really enjoyed going back to school.  New clothes, fresh notebooks, a clean slate for a new year… all of those things brought out an excited optimism within me.  I miss that.

I miss the days when the whole family would spend chilly autumn days at the football field.  I was a cheerleader for one solid year, my brother played football regularly and my dad was a coach while my mom was either volunteering in the concessions stand or sitting on the chilly metal bleachers with her mom squad.  When I was in high school, Saturday mornings were spent sitting on those same bleachers freezing my literal ass with the rest of the marching band.  Every other morning of the fall was spent early before school started practicing our routines out on the dewy and sometimes frosted football field.  I hated it then, but I wish at this moment I could revisit it.  You never know when the good old days are until you’re out of them.

It’s hard not to think about September 11th when this rolls around.  When I have those bright, warm & clear autumn September days, it’s hard not to think “this is just like that day…”  How I remember on a whim I went to NYC on September 4, 2001 just to be there, and would be the second and final time I’d visited the WTC.

The first of September simultaneously makes me mourn the end of another summer gone and be excited for the fun autumn activities that are to come.  As my daughter gets bigger we can do more things with her that she can enjoy as well.  I’m looking forward to going to the farm, pumpkin picking, baking, hay rides and hikes through crunchy leaves together this year.

As the calendar changes from August to September with intermittent crisp and warmer days, I take this time to acknowledge my nostalgia for days passed, and put my foot forward to embracing all the great things that are to come in the next few months.  Load me up with that pumpkin spice, get me a hot cup of mulled cider and a fresh donut at the farm, and let’s get hella spoopy as Halloween arrives.  I’m ready for you, Fall.


My Latest Obsession: Korean Skin Care

I get lots of whims.  If you’re my friend, whenever I get really excited about something, I am giving you all the details about it and telling you how wonderful and life-changing it is.  It’s as though I am your in-person resource for reviews on anything, whether you asked me or not.  That’s also why I always review my purchases on Amazon.  Because if I’m out there relying on other people’s reviews, my opinion needs to get in there as well.  For the people.

The latest thing I’ve been on about for like a year now is a Korean Skin Care Regimen.  I started getting interested in different Korean skin care products after I’d been visiting a local Korean sauna spa, known as a Jjimjilbang 찜질방.  This spa is amazing, I spend the whole day there and leave with all my tension and worries gone, my skin softer than ever, and smelling like heaven.  Initially I had some reservations about going here, because the “wet” part of the spa with the different therapeutic hot tubs, pools & body scrubs is completely naked.  The naked areas are gendered so you’re not in mixed company.  Once you’re in, it’s completely not even awkward.  It’s just a bunch of ladies hanging out.  This is where I first saw someone using a sheet mask, that they sold there for like $3.  This was my initiation into the world of Korean beauty indulgences.

I don’t know if it was just me becoming aware, or if it was suddenly taking off in popularity, but I’d also seen a Buzzfeed video around that time of “I tried a Korean Beauty Regimen for a Week and here’s what happened.”  Then there were a few more articles from the likes of Buzzfeed, Bustle and Hello Giggles and the like about the hottest K-beauty products to put on your list. More American stores started carrying K-beauty products as well, in CVS, Nordstrom and Ulta.

So after a year of dabbling and trying to figure out what works best for me, what my skin needs, and how I can really cultivate My Best Skin Ever, I feel pretty good about the products I’m using.  It seems like a lot, or too many steps, or it will take a lot of time, but honestly I can do my routine in 5-10 minutes, more or less depending on how many extras I’m adding in that day.  All in all, the only time in my life that my skin has looked better is when I was pregnant.  I’ve had acne prone skin since I was 12 years old, and I finally feel like I am at a comfortable place where I can be makeup-free and feel confident about my bare skin.


The first part of my skin care routine is cleansing.  More specifically, double-cleansing.  I’d always been warned against too much face washing will strip your skin and cause breakouts even further, but this process is actually better for deep cleansing and keeping your skin balanced.

The first cleanser is an oil-cleanser.  This part gets all the gunk off your face, makeup and skin oils.  Oil attracts oil.  I use Mamonde oil cleanser that I purchased at H-Mart.  Initially, I only used oil cleanser at the end of the day if I’d worn makeup.  However after reading some other people’s experience and recommendations, I started oil cleansing twice a day, every day, and it has helped my skin become less oily (surprise!) and my pores appear smaller.

Mamonde Deep Cleansing Oil

The next step is a water-based cleanser.  I have a few that I use depending on the day or what I feel like my skin needs.  Nooni whipping cleanser I like because it’s fun to whip up the marshmallow-like fluff.  Though it’s not a K-beauty product, I like Kiehl’s blue herbal gel when I feel like I might be getting a zit.  Mizon Snail Cushion cleanser is a good foam cleanser, with the added benefits of snail mucin (more about that later).

Another part that has helped get my face extra clean is using a brush.  Either a soft manual brush that is great during the rinsing stage, or once a day (in the evenings), a Clinique sonic brush, that is similar to the Clarisonic. I feel like this has really helped in getting all the gunk out of my pores, which has reduced the appearance of the pores.



After double-washing and drying my face comes the toner.  I used to think toner was just a thing you used to further clean the junk out of your pores, as the stuff I’d been used to was astringent and a little stinging.  Now, toner is gentle and moisturizing, and helps balance the pH of your skin.  Skin with a balanced pH is less likely to break out, and helps the rest of your products work to their full potential.  So far I have tried Mizon Moisture Barrier Toner, Oolu Jasmine Moisture Liquid and SkinFood Peach Sake Toner.  The Jasmine and the Peach smell absolutely amazing, very light and the scent doesn’t really linger more than 2 minutes after applying.  I don’t like heavy fragrances whatsoever, they will end up giving me a headache before long.  Anything that smells too much gets the boot.

Essence, Ampoule, Gels, Serums

This is where it gets interesting.  There are so many specific skin care concern products you can customize to what is bothering you from acne, hydration, anti-aging or lightening dark marks.  I’m currently using a Snail Mucin Ampoule and a Recovery Snail Gel.  Snail secretion is great for your skin.  It sounds a little yucky and people might be grossed out by the thought of putting snail slime on their face, but we use a lot of weird ingredients for all sorts of things.  Think about eggs.  You eat a chicken failed pregnancy, basically.  So why not put some snail goo on your face?  It promotes healing, collagen and cell renewal, and keeps your skin hydrated & supple.  From my own experience, it definitely helps fade acne marks more quickly than anything else.  It has no scent and does not feel any more slimy than other serums you might consider using.

I’m also using a SkinFood Peach Sake Pore Serum, but because of it’s consistency, I’m using it closer towards the end of my routine.  The rule of thumb for applying skin care products is light to heavy.  So use the most watery thing first and use the creamiest thing last.


Sheet Masks

Yaaaaasss!  This is probably my favorite part.  If you’re friends with me on SnapChat (add me:  an.alien), you have 100% gotten a weird photo of me in a sheet mask.  These masks are a great way to get an intense dose of a specific serum all over your face.  You put it on and leave it for about 20 minutes.  Afterwards you rub in in and absorb all the rest of it’s juicy goodness.  I’ll even rub the used mask on my chest and arms and not waste a single drop of its serum.  There are a LOT of options to choose from, and range in price from $1 and up.  I bought a big pack of 20 assorted masks at H-Mart one day that had things like lemon (brightening), green tea (soothing), collagen, aloe, royal jelly, placenta, ginseng and much more.  I’ve bought a bunch at a Sheet Mask Store in Manhattan (in Korea Town, after having dinner at a really fun Korean BBQ place Jongro BBQ) and gotten anti-aging, acne, brightening and soothing from several different brands and some with fun animal-face prints on them.  A popular brand is Tony Moly, it’s all over Amazon and in stores like Ulta, and is priced right for you to try a variety of them.  Sheet masks are not something I use every day, maybe one or two nights a week depending if I have time to treat myself.  Hollika Hollika has the fun animal masks, while Innisfree focuses more on clinical, adult-geared packaging & descriptions.

some of my many masks

me as a pug

Emulsions, Creams

Thicker more hydrating creams go in here.  I bought Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream from Amazon after reading it is a cult favorite.  I’m almost finished with my jar of cream, and I gotta be honest, I don’t know if it’s really good for me.  I can’t tell a difference good or bad, and I only use that one in the evening since it makes my skin look shinier if I use it during the day.  I’m walking a fine line of needing to have moisturized, soft skin and trying to not get oily skin.  I’ve found that the SkinFood Peach Sake Emulsion helps, my skin is soft and matte after using this, so it works day or night.  If my skin is extra dry, at night, I use Clinique Moisture Surge cream.


Eye Cream…

I’m on the lookout for a good eye cream right now.  I had a bad reaction to one I was using, made my eyes itchy.  There’s a lot of good options out there for anti-aging and dark circle concerns, and I’m leaning towards another Mizon product.  What can I say, I like the brand.  Though I have read that the Snail Essence Ampoule is good enough on it’s own to use under the eyes.  So I’m not sure what I’ll get yet.


Ideally you should finish your day routine with a sunscreen, which I currently do not.  I’m looking for a good one and I’m probably going to order either Missha All Around Safe Sun Milk SPF 50 or Corsx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50.

About once a week, I use a mild exfoliant, Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel.  I use this in the morning, in the shower, after I wash my face.  It’s very gentle and visibly effective.

I like clay masks for purifying my pores … I just ordered a carbonated clay mask that bubbles, so I’m interested in seeing how that turns out!  It’s been mentioned on a lot of must-try lists lately.

The proof is in the pudding though, so here is a photo comparing me in April and June.  It was to show off my hair, but it is of note I am wearing minimal makeup (only eye) in one photo and no makeup in the other.  My skin really is in a good place right now, I feel good leaving the house without makeup, without waking up with the dread of “having” to do a full face.


Where to Buy…


This Ain’t NASA

Eye contact.  It can be used to convey messages, or simply to express “yes, I am listening.”

I’ve been encountering so many idiots that I’ve got to wonder “is it me?”  Am I the problem?  Am I not doing enough with my verbal or non-verbal communication to actually relay things to people?
The other day some weirdo came into my office soliciting some shit.  I have no idea what though, since I couldn’t understand what he was saying with his thick accent.  Because of my desk, I couldn’t really see him from the knees down, and someone I work with was passing through the hall and saw me talking to this guy.  She informed me later that she had to stop herself from bursting out laughing because he was wearing these:
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I get it’s cultural attire.  I wouldn’t have laughed at him if I saw it.  I might have been surprised, surely, being that they didn’t exactly coordinate with the rest of the suit. Elves tend to wear something a little more  At least it’s not sandals.  There is a large Indian population where I live and work, and they will wear sandals until the snow is falling on their toesies.  I don’t know how they do it.  Anyways, I was doing the polite “Thank you for stopping by, but we’re not interested.”  And he was just not getting it.  Just giving me this intense look and then “well we can open an account real quick.”  And I’m just like Oh no.  I don’t want to do that.  But have a good day.  Cue some more weird eye contact.  Like…. “have a good day” is your dismissal.  You can go now.
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This morning I go to Dunkin Donuts on my way to work.  The drive-thru line looks long so I figure I will go inside.  Even though it’s hella cold, getting out of the car also gives me a chance to dispose of accumulated car trash as well.  So I get in, and there is one lady ordering in front of me and it seems like A Hassle.  Her order is finally complete and I’m up and this young guy kind of wanders away… first behind a door next to the register, then he yells something over to the other workers.  He comes back to the register and after a weird pause where he’s just looking at me he goes “how can I help you?”  Like ok maybe I didn’t just start blabbing my order out before you spoke because you are not giving any indication that you are at all prepared for this interaction.  So I start saying what I want, and he cuts me off two words in, and begins yelling at the other workers again.  So I’m like “uh ok…” out loud.  And then he’s like ok what can I get you, and that repeats once more with me getting cut off so he can yell something.  At this point I’m visibly annoyed, because then he starts apologizing and I’m like OK ARE YOU READY NOW??? And then I hear a manager come out and she yells at everyone to get their shit together because it’s a different problem every 5 minutes and this is Dunkin Donuts, not NASA.  I laughed.
Anyways, I’m trying to have significant eye contact with people because we live in A Society, but since Trump’s been elected all forms of human normalcy are slowly eroding away so I guess this is just life now.